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How long does a divorce take in Illinois?

Wondering how long a divorce takes in Illinois? We cover what you can expect and which factors will impact the timetable of a divorce in Illinois.

evident Editorial Team
December 6, 2023
Chicago buildings, Illinois

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging process.

If you are going through a divorce in Illinois, you may have questions like how long does an uncontested divorce take in Illinois, or how long does it take for a divorce to be finalized in Illinois?

This article provides a general timetable for getting a divorce in Illinois and the different factors that affect the potential timetable.

Key Takeaways

Illinois Divorce Timetables

So, how long does a divorce take in Illinois? The short answer is that it can be as quick as two months, or it could take a year or more.

Several factors influence an Illinois divorce timetable, including whether a divorce is uncontested or contested.  (Note that Illinois is a no-fault divorce state and there are no longer any fault-based grounds for divorce).

Keep in mind that the court's schedule will also play a role. Thus, when you are able to get a court date for any relevant hearings or court appearances will also dictate the timeline for an Illinois divorce.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces in Illinois

One of the primary factors that affects how long a divorce will take in Illinois is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Generally speaking, the timeline for an uncontested divorce is typically shorter than for a contested divorce, and the timeline for a contested divorce can vary greatly. 

Whether an Illinois divorce is contested or uncontested may also affect whether there is a waiting period. We’ll address this below, but first, it’s important to understand the basic differences between uncontested divorces and contested divorces.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Illinois?

An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree to end the marriage and agree on all of the divorce-related issues, such as:

  • Property division
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Child custody

Because the parties agree on all the divorce issues, uncontested divorces require minimal court involvement, which helps shorten the timeline of an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

An uncontested divorce in Illinois could be as short as a few months. The divorce process could take longer, though, if it turns out the couple don't agree on all the terms of the divorce after they file the divorce petition.

Mistakes in divorce papers or late filings could also lengthen the timeline of an uncontested divorce. 

How long does a contested divorce take in Illinois? 

A contested divorce occurs when the spouses do not agree on all the divorce-related issues or when one spouse opposes the divorce altogether. A contested divorce requires far more court oversight than an uncontested divorce. 

Each contested divorce is different, so it is difficult to predict how long a contested divorce will take. A contested divorce in Illinois can take anywhere from six months to more than a year, but the complexity of the divorce proceedings will dictate how long the process takes.

If a divorce is particularly contentious or complicated, a contested divorce could take years. Cooperation between spouses is crucial for helping a contested divorce move quickly. 

Is there a waiting period for divorce in Illinois? 

Under Illinois law, there is no mandatory waiting period for an uncontested divorce. The parties must simply meet the applicable residency requirements, which are typically 90 days for divorces that don’t involve minor children and six months for divorces that do involve child custody issues.

For contested divorces in Illinois, there is a six month waiting period if one of the spouses disagrees that there are irreconcilable differences. In other words, being separated for six months meets the criteria for “irreconcilable differences” if one spouse tries blocking the divorce. 

What is a joint simplified divorce in Illinois?

A joint simplified dissolution is a form of uncontested divorce, but it has extra requirements. 

The requirements for a joint simplified divorce include:

  • You and your spouse have been married for less than eight years
  • You and your spouse do not have children
  • You do not own any real estate, and the value of other marital property is less than $50,000
  • Neither you nor your spouse earn more than $30,000 per year
  • Neither spouse relies on the other for financial support, and both spouses waive alimony

Couples in Illinois who meet all the requirements can file for a simplified joint dissolution, which can save time and money compared to even other uncontested divorces.

What other factors affect an Illinois divorce timeline?

Here are other factors that are likely to affect how long a divorce will take in Illinois. (And note that they are also among the factors that impact how much a divorce costs in Illinois).

Whether the divorce involves children

Divorces involving minor children raise additional (and sometimes emotionally charged) issues, such as child custody and child support. These additional issues can lengthen the divorce process.

The size of the marital estate 

Generally speaking, spouses with more shared assets will have a longer divorce timeline. Divorce agreements must address the division of assets (and any debts), so decisions must be made about who gets to keep which assets for the process to move forward.

The complexity of the marital estate

Divorces involving complex marital assets often take longer than those without. For instance, the following scenarios would be considered complex if one or both spouses: 

  • Own a business or have a significant ownership interest in a business. 
  • Own a wide range of investments. (E.g. if one spouse has substantial investments in stocks, real estate, or commodities.)
  • Has significant debt. 
  • Receives income from a foreign business. 

Whether one spouse is financially dependent on the other 

If there is a significant earning discrepancy between the spouses, whether one spouse ought to provide financial support for the other will likely come up. Determining this support -- called alimony in Illinois -- can prolong divorce proceedings. 

How contentious the divorce is

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And finally, whether the couple can cooperate will have a huge impact on the timing of an Illinois divorce. 

Even among contested divorces, there is a wide range of possible outcomes. The more that spouses are able to work together to settle divorce issues amicably and keep moving the divorce process forward, the more efficient the process will be. Collaborative divorce or divorce mediation are approaches that may help you and your spouse work through your issues amicably.

Not all contested divorces have to be scorched-earth legal battles. But the more contentious a divorce is, the longer it will likely take.

The Bottom Line

So, how long does divorce take in Illinois? Every divorce is different, which makes it difficult to provide a single timeline.

In general, though, uncontested divorces can be resolved in a matter of months and contested divorces can take longer, including up to a year or more. 

If you have questions, consider speaking with an Illinois divorce attorney to get a more accurate estimate of how long your divorce might take.